Dining with Strangers: Social Experiment GrubWithUs Launches Today
Image courtesy of GrubWithUs.
It sounds like the premise of a romantic comedy. (Or perhaps a gory slasher film? Let's hope not.) A handful of strangers meet at a restaurant to share some food and laughs, and to see where the night leads them. That's the idea behind GrubWithUs, the dinner party social club that launched today in Los Angeles.
At GrubWithUs, members sign up to attend one of many pre-arranged dinners going on at various restaurants around town. The other party guests will be strangers as well, so don't worry about feeling like an outsider.
Sounds like It's Just Lunch, but orgy-style, right? No. While other social sites tend to focus on either dating or networking, GrubWithUs does neither. "It's a platform for making new friends," says Tricia Sabido, Director of Development for GrubWithUs. "There's no pressure," she adds. But if you happen to sit next to a cute guy or girl, or maybe your potential new boss, whatever happens happens.
GrubWithUs sees food as a great unifier, and thus all meals are served family style, even at restaurants that don't typically go that route. And no awkward check splitting at the end either. All meals are prepaid online and include tax and tip, and each person is billed individually for drinks.
Speaking of which, you're discouraged from buying drinks for any other dinner-goer, so you'll have to get creative if you do decide to get your flirt on. You're more than welcome to buy a round for the table, though, which we're guessing will earn you hero status.
There are other ways to earn foodie street cred as well, such as by signing up first for any of the meals. Doing so earns you the Brave Soul Badge, which doesn't really get you anything, but a collection of them will certainly gussy up your member profile. So says Sabido, various cuisine badges will be rolled out soon as well. Wonder if you can become the 'Mayor of Chinese Food.'
It seems as if urbanites particularly are hungry for this sort of friendly field trip: Chicago, where GrubWithUs began, has about 5,000 users. Prior to today, L.A. already has 400 pre-signups.
A quick scroll through the site shows that dinners at Shin, Geisha House and Swill Automatic already have a couple of attendees ready to go. We're told that future meals are set to take place at Toast and Cayenne Cafe, among other places. Will you belly up?
Get the Squid Ink'd Newsletter
Sign up for our weekly food newsletter, which features top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips and a link to our print review.